At midnight by the cliff


Distinct — his song was laced with soil, a whiff
of corpse; a destiny: his magnetism
of tapered fingers, priestlike porcelain skin.
She left her bed, and by the moonlit cliff.
for secret tryst, she met, no cause for schism
forbidden lover, darkly cloaked: not sin
but lust, like water, cold and fresh, she’s stiff
not fearful, she’s the light and he’s her prism.
Arriving softly like the wind, his grin
unsettling, yet in kissing, viper-swift
his hands around her nape, they swirl in rhythm
of harmony, she’s bending inward — flinch
as tenderly, for love, she steals his breath
impaled her knight has left and married death.

Vampire by Edvard Munch

Vampire by Edvard Munch


Today Toni want’s us to write Halloween poetry, vampires, ghouls and ghosts, you decide at dVerse Poetics. Have fun, the bar opens at 3 PM EST.

October 20, 2015

38 responses to “At midnight by the cliff

  1. That was a different twist at the end. It’s usually those vampires that have the upper hand over their “prey.” Love how you describe him with his porcelain skin, smell of dirt and whiff of corpse. Really nice, Bjorn!

  2. This phenomenal poem can be read in multiple ways. One the one hand, perhaps he is a vampire already but his most painful death comes in falling in love with her. Also, the metaphor may be that he is dead inside, numb, until he comes to love her. Then he embraces a different sort of death. Either way, I think he welcomes the pain.

    I love these sections:

    “Distinct — his song was laced with soil” … This is a man with a unique voice, burying his song or poem or voice or self. Also, there’s a double meaning in “soil” … and in “lace.” This makes me think of drugs — one kind with just a touch of another added to it. Lace is a tender touch, feminine, decorative. Soil is dirty, error, sin. I love the marriage of those two images. I love the way you describe him as priestlike and magnetic, as if he’s someone who can easily drawn in followers.

    If a woman leaves her bed at midnight and finds herself on a cliff, she is likely considering suicide. Female ghosts also haunt such locales, in movies and such. Yet, at the end of the poem, it sounds like the man might have killed himself, body or spirit, because of what loving her did to him.

    “no cause for schism” … Hmmm. This makes me think she had the same belief system as he.

    “forbidden lover, darkly cloaked” … I like your vagueness here; it makes me wonder which one of them is forbidden, which one is darkly cloaked … if not both.

    I like your interesting comparison of lust to cold water. Also the way you suggest that she might be a “stiff” in body and/or spirit as well. Plus, maybe she’s rigid, unbending, at first — not afraid, per se; just firm.

    “she’s the light and he’s her prism” … I love this. How creative you are!

    This is my favorite section:
    “Arriving softly like the wind, his grin
    unsettling, yet in kissing, viper-swift
    his hands around her nape, they swirl in rhythm” … Very sexy.

    And this: “she’s bending inward” … a contrast to the previous mention of her being stiff.

    “flinch as tenderly, for love” … This makes me think that feeling love or tenderness makes her flinch, as if those are emotions she tries to avoid. Lust is safe; love is not.

    I like that in those last two lines, it’s unclear who’s impaled. He has left, but is it because he was impaled? Or is she impaled and then he’s left?

    What if “death” is even representative of another person? Maybe he’s left this girl, standing on the cliff alone, to go marry someone else?

    SO many possibilities here; I love it!

    • I love how you can read so much into my text… way beyond what I might have thought.. but a vampire myth is always a story of something else isn’t it.. it could be abuse, it could be forbidden sexuality it could be so many thing, and once you bring in a myth it makes all the difference (and ambiguity)…

  3. Whew, this is a chilling write! The ending, with her stealing his breath & impaling him chill me to the core. Seems like this forbidden love/lust was doomed since inception. The vampire painting is perfect!

  4. Excellent poem, terrific twist at the end, killer actually. You faked us out with his vampire-like personal traits & odors; the perfect build up for the conquest of a nubile maiden (like a straw man argument in debate). The Munch painting is way cool, never seen it before. I like the line /she’s the light & he is her prism/ considering she is a daughter of darkness it would have to be moonlight, I guess.

  5. Well, that was a bit haunting…dancing on the darkside again Bjorn. You know on that night the veil is very thin one never knows what will happen.

  6. Vampires in general give me the chills or the “jimjams” as Toni mentions.
    “she’s the light and he’s her prism”….love this line and I think it gently eluded to the twist…or maybe that was just my interpretation. 🙂

  7. With your words, you paint a series of scenes that culminate in Edvard Munch’s piece … a kind of ghoulish synergy of painting and poetry coming together – and creating an intensified effect.

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